If you’re pursuing higher education in the United States, you’ll likely need to take out a student loan to afford it. This is often the case regardless of where in the country you’re enrolled. However, student loan debt does vary by state, so students seeking the same kind of degree may owe more or less than their peers in other regions. But wherever you live, most states have student loan forgiveness programs that may offer relief for graduates struggling to pay off their debt.
Student debt is what’s owed when a borrower takes out either a federal or private loan to cover the costs of higher education, which can include-among other things-tuition, textbooks, other school supplies, and basic living expenses. As of ericans collectively owed $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. To put that number in context, that’s more than the gross domestic product (GDP) of nearly any country in the world. Even when accounting for potential scholarships or parental financial assistance, most people will likely still need a loan. Additionally, the cost of education has risen over time, meaning even larger sums may be required in the future.
Student debt is a reality for over 44 million Americans, and there are myriad reasons why someone would be unable to repay their loans. Delinquency in repayments can eventually lead to a loan going into default, both of which have long-lasting impacts on a borrower’s credit score and credit report. And even if someone is able to keep up with their loan payments, this expense can make it harder to save for bigger purchases or even an emergency fund.
Fortunately, there are programs available that offer student loan forgiveness to graduates struggling to manage their debt burdens. In addition to the student loan forgiveness options provided by the federal government-which are available to anyone who meets the criteria regardless of their location within the U.S.-individual state governments s. Below is our analysis of how student loan balances and forgiveness programs differed by state in 2019.
According to the Institute for College Access & Success, 62% of college graduates from four-year public and private nonprofit colleges had student loan debt in 2019, with each graduate owing $28,950 on average. This represents a ounts to a less than 1% e period
At $39,410, borrowers in New Hampshire had the highest average student debt burden. Conversely, at $17,935, Utah’s graduates owed the least in student debt on average, and it was the only state with a figure below $20,000.
In addition to size of debt, loan burden is also measured by the percentage of students who carry debt. The same report found that for the 201819 academic year, 74% of graduates in New Hampshire had student loan debt, the highest percentage in the U.S. Likewise, at 40%, Utah had the lowest percentage of graduates with student loan debt for this same period.
Interestingly, at 40% of total debt, New Hampshire tied with Delaware for the second-highest rate of private student loan utilization, with Rhode Island’s just 2% higher. This is despite the fact that 59% of borrowers in both Rhode Island and Delaware had student loan debt-15% fewer than the Granite State. Though Utah did have the lowest rate of nonfederal debt utilization, it was tied with New Mexico at 9%, even though the latter state had a 5% higher rate of graduates who owed student loans.
Although not a state, at $64,354, the District of Columbia had the highest total on-campus cost of attendance in 2019. At $53,853, Massachusetts had the highest total cost of attendance of any state and the second highest overall. The state with the lowest cost of attendance was Wyoming, at $16,275. Additionally, the District of Columbia had the highest tuition and fees at $44,723, accounting for 69.5% of the total cost of attendance. Wyoming’s $4,144 in tuition and fees made up just % of its total cost of attendance.
Lastly, by subtracting the total cost of attendance of each state from its respective average student loan debt, we can see which parts of the U.S. generally offer more student aid than the minimum amount required. The excess cash can go toward off-campus living expenses or be saved for after graduation and put toward debt repayment.
Twenty-seven states have attendance costs lower than the average graduate debt. Mississippi borrowers had an average of $14,042 left after accounting for the cost of attendance. Conversely, at -$32,315 on average, students in the District of Columbia will have to pay far more for their education than their median student loan amount covers.
As of , 49 states and the District of Columbia offer at least one student loan forgiveness program. There are a total of 127 state-level student debt cancellation plans in the U.S. Minnesota has 15 student loan forgiveness programs-the most out of any single state. North Dakota is the only state that does not currently have its own dedicated student debt cancellation option.
Most education loan forgiveness plans are designed to help borrowers in specific professions so as to attract more students seeking the same careers to a particular state (for example, doctors, science and math teachers, lawyers, etc.). This is also why a state might offer more than one program, because it allows the state to potentially draw multiple kinds of workers into the local economy. Because economic circumstances will also differ by state, other variations are likely to exist among programs pertaining to the same careers. Below are the three areas that can differ the most from program to program.